West Sussex failing to deliver COVID-19 emergency measures required by Government for walking and cycling

On 9 May Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called on councils to “make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians”.

In light of the pandemic crisis, councils are required to deliver these changes “as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks” to ensure that the “millions of people [who] have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking” have space for safe, socially distanced travel.

The West Sussex cycle forums have engaged with WSCC in providing locations where emergency measures are most needed.

Measures suggested by the Government include pop-up cycle lanes, widened pavements, “school streets” (where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times) and low-traffic or traffic free neighbourhoods.

We are therefore extremely disappointed that although West Sussex is supportive in words we have yet to see any action on the ground.

Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, as quoted in the West Sussex County Times, says that West Sussex will only commence work on these projects “once we have confirmation from Government on how much funding we will receive”.

Other councils in the UK have already implemented emergency measures, with the immediate benefit of proving safe space for cycling and social distancing. The Government’s statutory guidance is clear that action must be taken quickly “given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.”

Pop-up cycle lane in Leeds (pic: @LeedsCC_News)

Many measures do not need special funding or legal process. Sometimes all that’s needed is some cones.

Peter Silburn, Secretary of the Horsham Cycle Forum, asks:

“Why is West Sussex dragging its heels? Horsham and other towns in the county are missing out. Everybody driving simply isn’t an option. The problems will be worse than before the lockdown, with increased road danger and even higher levels of congestion and air pollution.

“In a sign of the frustration at the council’s inaction, cycle forums across the county have come together and have written to Grant Shapps and his transport team asking the Government for help to get things moving.

“We are at a crossroads. Any inaction now means a return to even more dangerous and congested streets. This isn’t about cycling, it’s about making our roads work for everyone, however they travel.”


  1. Michael Rutter says

    Typical for West Sussex County Council. There are a majority at W.S.C.C. and a good number at Horsham District Council who are against cyclists at all costs. The Government are fast tracking legislation for electric powered scooters now – hoorah! People need to move around and as there are increasing cars for the housing that will cover our openspaces there has to be a method of transportation. Roads cover areas that can hold houses. people want independent, personal transport ans the more variety, the better.

  2. Sarah Lambert says

    I’m fairly certain changes can be made but employees are finding correspondence and Freedom of Information requests which must be responded to is preventing them from doing so. Maybe a single coordinated letter to the council to cover all collated suggestions would allow work to progress?

  3. WSCC Highways- The Long Grass specialist’s
    Even if they get the promises of finance they are expecting there will be another lame excuse for keeping things just as they are.They will say all the things you want to hear and then do nothing.
    Something wrong with the system I feel.

  4. Robert Platt says

    This looks as if it is going to be a missed opportunity. A great pity.

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